Saturday, 5 October 2019

Attending North Tyneside World Mental Health Day Event 2019

World Mental Health Day celebrates awareness for the global community in an empathetic way, with a unifying voice, helping those feel hopeful by empowering them to take action and to create lasting change.
— World Federation for Mental Health

I was delighted to attend this year’s North Tyneside World Mental Health Day event at Cullercoats Crescent Club in North Shields. My friend and fellow mental health blogger Aimee Wilson was there too, representing LEAPS (Listening Ear & Positive Support) which offers practical and emotional support for those who are unwaged. I’d met a couple of the folk from LEAPS previously and was glad to see them again and meet a few more.

You can read Aimee’s post about the event including her top tips on public speaking here.

The first hour or so was devoted to networking, waiting for coffee cups to arrive, and buying tombola and raffle tickets. I wasn’t successful in the raffle but won with all but one of my tombola tickets. That’s four Christmas presents I won’t need to buy!

Aimee introduced me to Sophie from North Tyneside Carers Centre. They run a comprehensive programme of events and workshops for mental health carers. I told Sophie about our book and discussed the possibility of speaking sometime at North Tyneside Carers about my experience as Fran’s carer.

I was wearing an “Ask me about supporting a friend with mental illness” badge. The ink smudged as the day wore on; at one point it read “Ask me about supporting a friend with mentalness.” Aimee and I agreed that mentalness was a pretty good way of expressing it!

Before it smudged, the badge sparked a great conversation with Peter from First Contact Clinical which is a local organisation “[striving] to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged people and communities by enabling healthy behaviour change.”

Other organisations represented at the event included:

As a vegetarian I was delighted to find the buffet included a wide range of meat-free options, with everything clearly labelled. I noticed some people returning for seconds (and even thirds!) which was a fine testament to the catering. After lunch and a live music session from Keytones, the event itself got underway with the North Tyneside Disability Forum (NTDF) choir and a laughter workshop led by Helen Collins.

Helen was followed by a moving presentation by Helping Hands which is a partnership between Connexions North Tyneside and the Phoenix Detached Youth Project. These groups provide mental health and emotional support to young people aged twelve to twenty-five.

Lara from Supporting Stars read three moving poems by local writers, after which it was time for Aimee to give her talk. Almost the entire room was quiet and focused as she shared her lived experience, the success of her blog I’m NOT Disordered, the benefits and pitfalls of social media, and how all of us can play a role in supporting those we care about. The applause Aimee received and the number of people who came to thank her afterwards says a lot about the impact someone speaking plainly and honestly can have. As I told her later, I was a very proud bestie!

Aimee’s talk brought the event to a close but people took the opportunity to hang around for more networking and goodbyes.

As I left, I was invited to choose one of the beautifully decorated Tyneside Rocks, many of which had been painted during the event. The idea is to hide the stones where others can find them. I will have fun finding a suitable place to hide the one I selected — if I can bear to let it go!

 

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